On September 9, 2021, President Biden announced that the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) will issue an emergency temporary standard that requires employers with more than 100 employees to mandate their employee to get vaccinated from COVID-19, or face weekly COVID-19 testing. President Biden also announced that he will require all federal contractors to require their employees to be vaccinated as well.
In light of this news, Texas employers who employ more than 100 employees, or who contract with the federal government or federal contractors, should begin consulting their employment-law attorneys and HR representatives about preparing and implementing mandatory-vaccination policies. The OSHA temporary standard (relating to employers with 100 or more employees), and guidance from the Safer Federal Workforce Task Force, are expected to be issued in the coming weeks. We anticipate that the OSHA standard and Task Force guidelines will shed more light on the contours of the vaccine mandates and weekly testing, and any applicable exceptions.
In addition to formulating vaccination policies, the employers described above should ensure that proper personnel are trained and equipped to administer the policies. Employers should decide how they will communicate the policies to employees, and how they will receive and maintain proof of vaccination. In addition, as discussed in a previous blog post, employers are generally required to accommodate employees with disability-based or religious objections to vaccination, unless accommodating the employee would result in an undue hardship to the employer. Employers should have forms available for employees to formerly request accommodations, and for the employer to ask for additional supporting documentation where appropriate. Management and HR personnel should also be trained on how to individually analyze accommodation requests, how to engage in the interactive process with employees to try to find effective accommodations where available, and how to engage in an undue-hardship analysis.